Cold Wind April 16, 2014 Cold Wind Nicola Griffith Old ways can outlast their usefulness. What Mario Scietto Says April 15, 2014 What Mario Scietto Says Emmy Laybourne An original Monument 14 story. Something Going Around April 9, 2014 Something Going Around Harry Turtledove A tale of love and parasites. The Devil in America April 2, 2014 The Devil in America Kai Ashante Wilson The gold in her pockets is burning a hole.
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April 13, 2014
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The Age of Heroes is Here. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
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A Spoonful of Music Makes the Nanny: Disney’s Mary Poppins
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Showing posts by: Bridget McGovern click to see Bridget McGovern's profile
Mon
Mar 31 2014 9:00am

Nicknames can be a mixed bag—sometimes they signal affection, admiration, or acceptance, and sometimes they’re a form of taunting, a devastating insult that lingers like a malicious ghost, inescapable. In the Song of Ice and Fire series, nicknames can be obvious, or ironic, affectionate or scathing, incredibly apt or impossibly unfair, but whether merited or misleading, such names often provide a window onto a deeper understanding of the characters that bear them.

In a world where people are so often not what they seem, where identities are changed, hidden, lost, and invented out of strategy or necessity, the names people pick up along the way are often far more telling than given names. Nicknames can point to the messy complexities hiding behind the public persona, the accepted version of events, the official history—they are stories to be unraveled, posing as punchlines: they tell all the truth, but tell it slant.

[Nicknames can also be incredibly entertaining...]

Wed
Feb 12 2014 12:00pm

We’re just about six weeks out from the return of HBO’s Game of Thrones and all of the craziness that entails—but first, let’s talk about Valentine’s Day. Whichever historical version of St. Valentine you subscribe to, tradition is pretty clear about the fact that his life ended in violent martyrdom: beaten first with clubs and/or stones, and then beheaded. Sometime in the High Middle Ages, he became associated with the tradition of courtly love and romance, which is probably why we celebrate February 14th with cards and chocolate and not a sackful of blunt instruments and nasty sharp things. (I mean, unless that’s your scene; I’m not here to judge.)

No matter how you slice it, any holiday that manages to combine unspeakable violence, sex, money, love, romance, religion, confusing historical vagaries, politics, legend, and at least one execution into something we celebrate by stuffing sweets into our faces is a Westerosi holiday in my book...

[Release the doves! Or maybe bake them into a pie!]

Thu
Jan 30 2014 11:00am

The Last Unicorn

Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, while sometimes categorized as YA, is generally hailed as a story for all ages. As much as I love the book, I didn’t read it until I was in college, so my initial introduction into Beagle’s world (like many fans my age, I suspect) came courtesy of the 1982 Rankin/Bass animated movie of the same name.

While I can’t speak to the experience of reading the novel as a child, I certainly believe that a story as beautifully crafted and enduring as this one will resonate with readers of various ages and experience. I’d argue that the movie also has plenty to recommend it to adult fantasy fans, and is far more advanced in its themes than the vast majority of animated children’s entertainment. And while it stays very true to the book in many ways, the film manages to foreground certain elements of the original story that give it a very powerful, very unique appeal for children. Don’t get me wrong: it’s kind of a strange film, but therein lies its magic. It speaks to younger viewers in a manner that very few films ever do.

[“They passed down all the roads long ago, and the Red Bull ran close behind them and covered their footprints…”]

Tue
Jan 28 2014 12:00pm

I’m honestly not sure what I can say about The Last Unicorn that hasn’t been said before—folks were proclaiming the book a classic almost as soon as it was published, and certainly before I was born. Ursula K. Le Guin has paid tribute to Peter S. Beagle’s “particular magic,” Madeleine L’Engle described him as “one of my favorite writers,” and countless other readers, writers, and reviewers have heaped such a formidable mountain of praise at his door that it almost seems futile to approach, from down in the valley, and try to carve out some new flourish or clamber conveniently onto some hitherto unexplored perspective.

But even great monuments have their road signs, billboards, and tourist brochures, their aggressively fluorescent arrows pointing helpfully toward sites that really shouldn’t be missed. So consider this post a roadside marker, a glossy pamphlet, a helpful map to a well-worn path that’s much-travelled for a reason: the world of The Last Unicorn is always worth visiting, and revisiting, even if you think you’ve seen it all before.

[“The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone.”]

Wed
Jan 8 2014 10:23am

Labyrinth David Bowie Jennifer Connelly Jim Henson

Labyrinth was Jim Henson’s second collaboration with artist Brian Froud, following The Dark Crystal four years earlier. Labyrinth was clearly a very different, more expansive type of project; Henson and Froud were joined by George Lucas as executive producer, Monty Python’s Terry Jones wrote the screenplay, and rock demigod David Bowie signed on to star, as well as write and perform the movie’s soundtrack.

Whereas The Dark Crystal is often seen as Henson and Froud’s freewheeling homage to fantasy àla Tolkien, Labyrinth is much more structured and far more aware of its influences; it’s also wonderfully allusive and meta at points, filled with references to the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, Maurice Sendak, and Walt Disney. And yet the movie doesn’t limit itself to clever references — it’s very clearly participating in the classic tradition of works like The Wizard of Oz, the Alice books, and Where the Wild Things Are, in which a young protagonist escapes a humdrum existence into an exotic, sometimes threatening, alternative reality.

[Cue the owl attack, begin the goblin invasion, and get ready for some really tight pants...]

Mon
Dec 23 2013 11:00am

Neil Gaiman American Gods If you’re familiar with Neil Gaiman’s work, then you know that music tends to play an important part in his writing, both on and off the page. This is certainly the case with American Gods, a road trip novel with its own offbeat, colorful soundtrack. When we started our American Gods Reread, I decided to keep track of each song mentioned or alluded to in the novel, to see how the music fit in with the events of each week’s chapters. Along the way, I added in some song choices of my own, where they seemed to fit in—in part because it’s fun to think ahead to the TV series and what the show’s soundtrack might be like—I, for one, already have my heart set on a theme song….

The songs below range from classical music to classic rock, pop songs to power ballads, show tunes to traditional folk melodies, and each song plays a part in the larger narrative—I’m still surprised by how much the musical references can inform and illuminate one’s reading of the text, once you start paying attention. I’ve covered each song in relative depth, chapter by chapter, but without further ado, here’s the complete American Gods Mega-Mix, for your listening enjoyment!

[A playlist worthy of the gods...as long as the gods like karaoke]

Sun
Dec 22 2013 11:00am

Supreme Holiday Weirdness: Rankin, Bass, and L. Frank Baum ask, Should We Just Let Santa Die Already?

Hearken unto me, little children. I grew up during the 1980s, when something called the Video Cassette Recorder was still the red hot, razor sharp, cutting-edge of technology. While it seems hard to believe nowadays, the bulky black rectangle, perched like a crude, mass-market facsimile of the Monolith from 2001 glowered ominously from the heights of our family entertainment center and was worshiped as a household god, which might be why my brother kept trying to feed it his Cheerios all the time (that did not end well). For me, the VCR was just a magical purveyor of Fraggle Rock and Cyndi Lauper videos; for my father, I now realize, it became a means of ruthlessly hunting down and capturing every single televised holiday special aired in the tri-state area between the late 70s and the mid-90s.

The amazing thing is that most of these tapes still survive to this day, having somehow escaped both the trauma of having soggy cereal dumped into the VCR and my manic Mystery Science Theater taping-sprees of yore (Hey! Joel said to keep circulating the tapes—if that meant recording a Gamera movie over some lesser sibling’s first baby steps, so be it. I have no regrets). The upshot of all this is that my siblings and I have had access to A LOT of really strange, Christmas-themed entertainment, and yet every year we return to one of our collective favorites: the 1985 Rankin/Bass adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, also known as The World’s Most Bizarre Animated Christmas Special...EVER.

[Below the fold: L. Frank Baum is crazy. So are puppets. Also? Dragons hate Santa.]

Tue
Dec 17 2013 12:00pm

Pee Wee Christmas

Several years ago around this time, I wrote a post about some of my favorite bizarro holiday specials to help ring in our very first Tor.com Cthulhumas/Life Day/Krampusnacht/Solstice celebration. While a lot has changed since 2008, my abiding love of strange and unusual holiday-inspired lunacy is as strong as ever, so please enjoy this updated guide to some classic (or should-be classic) yuletide entertainment….

[From recent to retro, 11 shows to make the holidays a little bit more surreal...]

Wed
Dec 11 2013 1:50pm

Twin Peaks

Okay, everybody—time to don some flannel, strap on your discman, and time travel back to the strange and magical world of 1990. For a brief, shining moment, Americans’ favorite pastime involved huddling around their giant TVs and bulky recording devices to find out what bizarre happenings would unfold each week in the town of Twin Peaks, Washington, and David Lynch was the reigning king of network television.

Sound crazy? It was. Also crazy? This bizarro version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as performed by Twin Peaks cast members, including Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), recorded by KROQ radio DJs at the height of the show’s popularity.

[Never forget: The owls are not what they seem...]

Mon
Nov 4 2013 3:00pm

Magnificent Bastards Accents Princess Bride

For better or worse, the stereotype of the “Evil Brit” is certainly nothing new; Hollywood has been using classically trained actors to class up its films since the dawn of the talkies, recruiting many of its early stars from the British stage. I was surprised, however, when we began planning Magnificent Bastards week, just how many of my favorite male villains fit into the category of Charming-Yet-Menacing Aristocrat. And, while this isn’t necessarily true of my favorite female villains, most of my favorite bad guys have English accents. I can’t be the only one who feels this way: check out the list below and tell me if I’m wrong...

[Having fun being evil, and looking good doing it]

Tue
Jul 30 2013 9:00am

Dangerous Women George R. R. Martin’s contribution to the Dangerous Women anthology purports to be an official history of one of the darkest and bloodiest chapters in the annals of the Seven Kingdoms, detailing the events of the infamous civil war known as The Dance of the Dragons. Given the relative darkness and bloodiness of most of the historical snippets strewn like grisly breadcrumbs throughout the Song of Ice and Fire novels, fans of the series should know enough to brace themselves for a wild ride…and Martin does not fail to deliver.

Set almost 170 years before the events of A Game of Thrones (80 years before the Dunk and Egg stories), the tale begins with the death of the king, Viserys I Targaryen. Viserys had long declared that his eldest daughter, Rhaenyra Targaryen, the only surviving child of his first marriage, would succeed him as heir to the Iron Throne. His second marriage had also produced children, however, including several adult sons, and upon his passing the newly widowed Queen claims the throne for her eldest son, Aegon. The stage is set for an epic war of succession between the two branches of House Targaryen, a conflict waged on land, sea, and in the air, as the competing royals turn their dragons against one another, bringing both dragons and the Targaryens themselves to the brink of extinction.

[How to Train Your Dragon (...to destroy your rival for the Iron Throne).]

Mon
Jul 29 2013 12:00pm

Patrick Rothfuss Name of the Wind

Ever since the announcement that 20th Century Fox has optioned the TV rights to The Kingkiller Chronicles, I’ve been obsessing over the prospect of casting the series...and I know I’m not the only one. Of course, this is a game people have been playing since The Name of the Wind came out in 2007—Patrick Rothfuss even weighed in early on, tapping a few actors and actresses for different roles. Back in 2008, he pictured Natalie Portman as Denna, for example, Morena Baccarin as Fela, and Neil Patrick Harris as Bast. Far be it from me to disagree with the author, but let’s take a look at some other possibilities...

[Casting The Name of the Wind, and beyond.]

Wed
Jun 19 2013 10:00am

World War Z characters not in movieAs the movie adaptation of Max Brooks’s blockbuster novel approaches—it’s finally due out in U.S. theaters this Friday—I’m keeping an open mind. The movie might be great, or it might be just mediocre, and there’s a decent chance it’ll stink on ice. But the one thing I’m not expecting is for it to be very much like the book on which it’s based.

The complaint I’ve been hearing most about the trailer is how the filmmakers have changed the zombies from shambling, Romero-esque undead hordes to an unstoppable swarm of speedy power-zombies. Personally, I’m not much bothered by that change—faster zombies are probably a better fit for the movie they’ve produced, which looks like a pretty conventional action movie.

It’s true that in writing World War Z, Brooks was inspired by George Romero’s zombies—but he was also inspired (perhaps even more directly) by the work of author/historian Studs Terkel.

[Oral histories versus action flicks, and the ten best characters you probably won’t meet in World War Z: The Movie]

Mon
Mar 18 2013 10:00am

Game of Thrones books show things that bother

When people talk about the mainstreaming of geek culture, the evolution of George R. R. Martin’s hugely popular Song of Ice and Fire series into the pop culture juggernaut that is HBO’s Game of Thrones is invariably noted as a sterling example of the mainstreaming trend. As always, I’m happy to see the fantasy genre making a splash and drawing new fans and new readers in—but as with any adaption, there’s bound to be a divide between two fan factions: those who’ve read the original books, and those who haven’t.

[Warning: If you have not read the books, you should probably not read this post, because there be spoilers and your head might explode.]

Wed
Jan 30 2013 11:00am

Tina Fey and the writers of 30 Rock have never been shy about letting their geek flag fly, both in extended parodies and homages and in delightfully random, obscure references peppered throughout the rapid-fire dialogue. Liz Lemon’s affection for/obsession with Star Wars, for example, is undeniable—as she insists to Jack in a recent episode, “I am not some kind of nerdery slut—I like Star Wars!”—and not since Spaced has a show featured quite so many jokes about Leia, Jedi, Sith Lords, and Admiral Ackbar.

Liz’s deep-seated fan loyalties aside, the show itself has always played the field when it comes to nerdery, gleefully getting down and dirty with everything from Batman and Lost to Ghostbusters and Game of Thrones. So in honor of the series’ finale this Thursday, here are some of our absolute favorite geeky references from all seven seasons of 30 Rock:

[BY THE HAMMER OF THOR!]

Mon
Dec 17 2012 11:00am

11 Odd, Campy, Surreal Holiday Specials That Should Be Classics

Four years ago around this time, I wrote a post about some of my favorite bizarro holiday specials to help ring in our very first Tor.com Cthulhumas/Life Day/Krampusnacht/Solstice celebration. While a lot has changed since 2008, my abiding love of strange and unusual holiday-inspired lunacy is as strong as ever, so please enjoy this updated guide to some classic (or should-be classic) yuletide entertainment….

[From recent to retro, 11 shows to make the holidays a little bit more surreal...]

Wed
Nov 28 2012 12:00pm

A single epic mix tape inspired by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods If you’re familiar with Neil Gaiman’s work, then you know that music tends to play an important part in his writing, both on and off the page. This is certainly the case with American Gods, a road trip novel with its own offbeat, colorful soundtrack. When we started our American Gods Reread a few months ago, I decided to keep track of each song mentioned or alluded to in the novel, to see how the music fit in with the events of each week’s chapters. Along the way, I added in some song choices of my own, where they seemed to fit in—in part because it’s fun to think ahead to the HBO series (currently expected to debut in late 2013 or early 2014) and what the show’s soundtrack might be like—I, for one, already have my heart set on a theme song….

The songs below range from classical music to classic rock, pop songs to power ballads, show tunes to traditional folk melodies, and each song plays a part in the larger narrative—I’m still surprised by how much the musical references can inform and illuminate one’s reading of the text, once you start paying attention. I’ve covered each song in relative depth, chapter by chapter, but without further ado, here’s the complete American Gods Mega-Mix, for your listening enjoyment!

[A playlist worthy of the gods...as long as the gods like karaoke]

Wed
Nov 21 2012 12:00pm

A reread of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on Tor.com: Conclusion and The Monarch of the Glen

Welcome to the final installment of our ongoing American Gods Reread, a rambling literary road trip through Neil Gaiman’s Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning novel (soon to be an HBO series). In our previous installments, we’ve following the adventures and misadventures of Shadow Moon and his employer, the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday, through a landscape both familiar and deeply strange. Having reached the end of the novel, we thought we’d share some concluding thoughts on the world of American Gods and take a look at Gaiman’s 2004 novella “The Monarch of The Glen,” which picks up with Shadow in the north of Scotland, about two years after the events of the book...

As always, please be aware that there will be spoilers in the post and comments.

[Glorious monsters, shambling through the swamps of unreason...]

Wed
Nov 14 2012 12:00pm

Making a mix tape inspired by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: Chapters 19, 20 and Postscript

As a side project to our  American Gods Reread, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at all the various songs quoted and referenced throughout the novel. Every epic adventure deserves an epic soundtrack, after all, and Neil Gaiman knows a thing or two about great music, so: whenever a song pops up in the text, I’ll be here to discuss each track in the context of the novel and theorize wildly about the connections between song and story.

For the most part, I’m planning to stick with songs that actually appear in the book, but as we progress with the reread I’ll be keeping an ear out for tunes that fit too well to be ignored, and I’m hoping you’ll help me out with suggestions in the comments: if there’s a song or artist that needs to be added to the list, let me know! By the end of the novel, we’ll hopefully have created a divinely inspired mega-mix worthy of Wednesday himself, featuring everything from rock and roll and the blues to show tunes and karaoke standards....

As with the reread, all page numbers mentioned correspond to American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (Author’s Preferred Text) and there are spoilers below the fold. Please feel free to pump up the volume.

[What’s new, pussycat?]

Wed
Nov 14 2012 12:00pm

A reread of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on Tor.com: Chapters 19, 20, and Postscript

Welcome to the ninth installment of our ongoing American Gods Reread, a rambling literary road trip through Neil Gaiman’s Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning novel (soon to be an HBO series). Each week we’ll be following the adventures and misadventures of Shadow Moon and his employer, the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday, through a landscape both familiar and deeply strange. Please be aware that there will be spoilers in the post and comments.

This week we’ll be discussing the epilogue and postscript of the novel, as Shadow attends to some unfinished business on several fronts (after a quick karaoke break, of course…)

[Yes, there's something the dead are keeping back.]